Roy W. Dean Grant Spring 2021 Finalists

Congratulations to the films selected to be Roy W. Dean Grant Spring 2020 Finalists.

25 films were chosen as finalists.  On this page, we give each filmmaker the opportunity to tell the world about their film.  They choose the pictures and loglines.  Some may choose not to reveal their projects on this page and we respect their wishes.   

Since 1992, From the Heart Productions has supported filmmakers with cash and substantial professional discounts from our film industry partners, averaging an estimated $30,000 per filmmaker.  The Roy W. Dean grants program, with several annual deadlines, has grown into one of the most sought after competitions in the world.

The Roy W. Dean Grant funds unique films that make a contribution to society.  It gives filmmakers with great stories told with passion the funding to get their projects started or completed.

Grant Application Button Transparent

2021 Spring Grant Finalists

Search Listings

A Family of Stories

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

A filmmaker’s life is transformed by her journey to investigate the mystery of her father’s 1983 vanishing while he was buying gold in the Venezuelan Amazon and the secrets she uncovers about him, her family, and herself.

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

When our planet's existence is being threatened by a gigantic energetic wave from the Universe, the only thing to do is to dance with the whole world, with everything we've got!

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE


When a seasoned Hispanic trainer decides to take in and train a
black boxer, an unlikely and close friendship develops. Together
they come to realize that they may have more in common with
each other than they have with their own families.

Use link below CUATE concept trailer
Password (Buddy)


Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

When three veteran families struggling with PTSD and secondary trauma lose all hope, service dogs help them heal and imagine the possible. Our film bears witness to the stabilizing role service dogs play in the every day lives of these families and during the challenges of Covid-19. Their stories are augmented by expert advisors who shed light on the science of the human-canine bond, secondary trauma and the reluctance of Veteran Affairs to fund service dogs as a treatment for PTSD.

Edge of Extinction


Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

This is a band-of-brothers story about one Yemeni filmmaker’s dangerous journey away from his family to a makeshift hospital serving the world’s worst humanitarian disaster; his determination to tell an untold story, the unexpected collaborators he meets, and the heroic risks they all take - with just nine days - to save a country they love. It’s a film about humanity and it’s a film about hope.

Esu and the Universe

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

In Brazil, a country where racism is a systemic issue and religious freedom is under attack, a community struggles to prove their god Esu, is not the devil. “Esu and the Universe'' is a documentary about freedom of worship and the decolonization of thought.

Finding la Singla

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

Antonia Singla was born deaf in a gypsy community in Barcelona, but against all the odds, she got to be considered the best flamenco dancer in the world.

Our story begins 50 years later, when a young fan of "la Singla" discovers her old recordings. Intrigued by her disappearance during the 70s, she crosses Spain to find her in Barcelona and learn her true story of self-improvement.



Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

In the foothills of northern California's historic gold rush country, the murder of George Floyd has sparked a racial reckoning in a mostly-white town long defined by a violent symbol - the noose. History and current events collide as three women must confront both their communities and their own identities. “Hangtown,” a documentary film in production, interrogates some of the most pressing questions around race and narratives in America today, revealing the challenges small towns must face when grappling with a contentious past.

Mother, Love (working title)


Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

An intimate exploration of the unintended consequences of China’s One Child Policy. Three only-child families navigate the mother-son relationship and build towards an uncertain tomorrow.

Grounded in cinema verité in three different cities in China, "Mother, Love", a character-driven documentary, paints a vivid picture of China’s uniqueness and culture. It takes a personal and nuanced look at three only-child families’ real lives and struggles with the unintended consequences of China’s One Child Policy.


Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

A filmmaker arrives to work on his new film and is faced with a colossal explosion that changes his life and what he can do for himself and his city. Octopus explores the aftermath of the Beirut explosion. The city is under construction and there is a strange eerie nature to how life continues even in its simplest forms. The filmmaker, himself a survivor, finds himself drawn to experience and silently document what reality felt like to other survivors.

Piece of Mind

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

The documentary PIECE OF MIND explores the humanitarian crisis of untreated serious mental illness mirrored in three viewpoints -- a mother and two siblings besieged by debilitating cognitive and systemic barriers to care for their loved ones, and a person living with bipolar disorder, as they pursue normalcy and treatment before tragedy, and reveal solutions. This timely film by Emmy-nominated filmmaker, Sheila Ganz, has a sister living with schizophrenia and felt this story was “staring me in the face.”

Radical Landscapes

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

Filmmaker Elettra Fiumi revives her late father’s visionary projects: a world where nature and technology live in harmony and the experience of life is communitarian. Her father Fabrizio Fiumi and his 9999 Group, 1960s-70s Radical Architects designing a new, green society, turns out to be a surprisingly contemporary utopia. An emotional journey in an exclusive family archive spanning decades invites us to embrace ideas timely related to the present times, showing us a possible future.


Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

The breast is a double-edged sword: it is both revered as a symbol of fertility and feminine beauty and maligned as a root of immorality and depravity. Led by a powerhouse of female filmmakers, REDUCTION is a revolutionary feature-length documentary that follows a group of people with oversized breasts, exploring the challenges they face and understanding their motivations – and trepidations – to undergo breast reduction surgery.

Sallie Mae Not

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

SALLIE MAE NOT is Chapter One in the untold story of how the U.S. Government set up a system of greed that gutted student loans of consumer protections leading to the skyrocketing cost of tuition and indenturing millions through predatory lending. Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi discovers Alan Collinge, author of the Student loan Scam, a dedicated stalwart who turns from scientist to activist when he is wrongfully thrown into default by Sallie Mae. Despite today’s headlines of privilege, scandal, greed and blame, the predatory lending system designed to indenture millions, predominantly women and people of color, remains hiding in plain sight.

Searching For Onoda

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

In 1974, a WWII soldier from Japan made international headlines when he emerged from the Philippine jungles after holding out for thirty years, refusing to surrender. Despite having killed dozens of civilians, he receives a pardon from President Marcos and is hailed a hero upon his return to Tokyo. After learning of her family connection to this bizarre tale more than four decades later, a young woman begins an epic journey to meet this soldier, and is changed forever by what she uncovers.

The Quietest Year

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

Vermonters on the verge of a nervous breakdown, trapped at home during the pandemic, are more than a little disturbed by noise, which impacts both their previously quiet environment and their peace of mind. Filmmaker Karen Akins explores the degradation of the acoustic environment in recent years and how noise as a major public health issue too long ignored has brought us to a critical moment for deciding the future of our mental and physical well-being.

The Trouble I See

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

How does a family survive when they are forced apart?
Three young men who have been cycling in and out of incarceration for their entire adulthood are chosen to participate in a father/daughter dance within the walls of the Richmond City Jail. Our film tracks their lives and the lives of their families for over seven years. The film illuminates the realities of growing up in an environment where exposure to violence and criminal activity are an everyday reality, of aspiring dream when it has been rendered systemically out of reach and of being so deeply impacted by gun violence, that it is paradoxically common-place and traumatic.

They Call Us Criminals

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

This documentary exposes the reality of the animals suffering within animal agriculture industries and showcases the work of Animal Rights activists in Canada. All while debunking the idea that activists are extremists and criminals. The documentary is based on the story and work of Shay, a documentary photographer and farm investigator. Shay and her fellow activists find themselves caught up in an alarming criminalization. The tension is palpable between anti-speciesist groups and industries. Like some of the activists interviewed in this documentary, Shay is facing charges and prison time. It is through Shay’s story that we navigate the current world of defending and saving animals.

UNSEEN: Exposing the Mental Health Crisis Among Special Needs Caregivers

Image: Please upload an image CROPPED TO 500px WIDE

Many special needs caregivers are exhausted and isolated, and their mental and physical struggle is a public health crisis that often ends in tragedy. The "Unseen" documentary takes a raw, honest look at the challenges caregivers face, telling a compelling human story that cultivates more compassion and tangible support for the caregivers in our community.



Roy W. Dean Spring Previous Grant Winners

2020 – Michael Culyba for Keeper of Time (Documentary)

2019 – Justin Lerner & Mauricio Escobar for El Cadejo Blanco (Narrative Feature)

2018Rémi Kessler, Robert Mc Falls, and Linda Othenin-Girard for The Advocate

2017 – Erika Cohn for Belly of the Beast

2016 – Malina Fagan and Lynn Pelletier for The Coverup

2015 – Karen Day for Girl From God’s Country

2014 – Jen Senko for The Brainwashing of My Dad

2013 – Helen Hall for Pictures of Infinity

2012 – Suzanne Mitchell for Running Wild

2011 – Beth Harrington for The Winding Stream

2010 – Cathryne Czubek for A Girl & A Gun

2009 – Chad A. Stevens for Coal War

2008 – Melissa Montero for Our Women Our Struggle

2007 – Shawn Batey for The Changing Face of Harlem

2006 – Alice Hurwitz & Jeff Morgan for Lilly & Leander, A Legacy of Violence

2005 – Eric Gottlieb for Wakefield Convicted, Sentenced to Die

2004 – Muriel Stockdale for NYC Spirit

2003 – Rebecca Dreyfus for Stolen



We thank our Community Partners for their continued support!